Accounting software: Free / low-cost options | BDC.ca
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Free and low-cost accounting software for your business

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Most organizations already use accounting software to issue invoices, track accounts payable, manage payroll and so on.

How does accounting software help?

Accounting software can help you:

  • increase staff productivity
  • get insights into overall financial performance
  • create consolidated financial statements
  • improve data accuracy
  • decrease outstanding accounts receivable and
  • make fact-based decisions.

What does accounting software do?

Accounting software handles all financial aspects of your company. The simplest programs help you pay bills, prepare invoices, calculate sales taxes, automate general ledger transactions, and track cash flow, revenue and expenses.

More sophisticated versions may include modules for payroll, inventory control, sales analysis and enhanced reporting. Some systems are customized to the needs of specific industries.

Consider today’s needs and tomorrow’s plans

Many small businesses start with off-the-shelf accounting software but outgrow it after a few years. You may want to consider whether the vendor you select addresses more complex needs such as multi-currency or multi-company requirements, and will let you easily upgrade in the near future to a more advanced solution, such as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

As your needs become more complex, ERP systems allow you to centralize internal and external information across your organization to help you plan and allocate resources more effectively. By giving everyone in your organization access to the same up-to-date information, they help you break down internal boundaries between teams and automate core processes. Worldwide vendors that are known for their ERP solutions include SAP, Oracle JD Edwards, Baan, and Microsoft Dynamics, to name a few.

However, since the price for ERP software can easily range from $10,000 to $100,000 plus implementation fees, and the focus of this review is on free and low-cost applications, ERP solutions have not been taken into consideration.

Free and low-cost accounting software

If you are looking for low-cost or free accounting products, you may want to consider the following. (SaaS refers to “software as a service.”)

Revised November 2014

  Free English French English support French support Data stored in Canada Cloud or SaaS
AccountEdge
AccountEdge is offered in English AccountEdge offers support in English

AccountEdge is available by subscription in the cloud or as a downloadable solution for a one-time fee. It is compliant with Canadian sales taxes and payroll requirements, and can also help you manage inventory. You can also link it to Shopify, a popular e-commerce platform.

Acomba Accounting Suite
Acomba Accounting Suite is offered in English Acomba Accounting Suite is offered in French Acomba Accounting Suite offers support in English Acomba Accounting Suite offers support in French Acomba Accounting Suite has data stored in Canada Acomba Accounting Suite uses the cloud or SaaS

Acomba Accounting Suite and Acomba Online Accounting Suite are much more than a simple piece of accounting software. They offer you a modular approach and a lot of scalability, although they don’t support multi-currency. You may need the help of a professional to install and configure the solution.

Avantage Progression
Avantage Progression is offered in English Avantage Progression is offered in French Avantage Progression offers support in English Avantage Progression offers support in French Avantage Progression has data stored in Canada Avantage Progression uses the cloud or SaaS

Avantage Progression is a bilingual, multi-company accounting management package that can support several users at once. To help you decide whether it suits your needs, the company offers a free trial.

Connected Core Accounting is a full-featured accounting and enterprise resource planning software package. Developed by a Canadian company, it targets businesses that have reached the limits of their entry-level accounting solutions.

Dynacom Accounting
Dynacom Accounting is offered in English Dynacom Accounting is offered in French Dynacom Accounting offers support in English Dynacom Accounting offers support in French Dynacom Accounting has data stored in Canada Dynacom Accounting uses the cloud or SaaS

Dynacom Accounting offers scalable accounting and financial solutions that can grow with you. The product family includes LITE (for start-ups), SMB and ERP editions, and can be customized to fit your needs. The SMB and ERP editions are available on SaaS platforms, and the free trial runs for one month.

FreshBooks
FreshBooks is offered in English FreshBooks offers support in English FreshBooks uses the cloud or SaaS

FreshBooks is a Toronto-based cloud accounting solution designed for small business owners. As such, it may lack some advanced functionalities, but it is a very effective way for service-based businesses to track projects, timesheets, invoices and expenses in one place. iPhone and iPad apps are particularly handy for scanning receipts and tracking expenses. The company also has payroll partners in Canada and the United States. The basic plan is free, but you will need to upgrade to a paid version to enjoy all the features.

IPSOBiz offers a suite of downloadable business management solutions for small businesses, including IPSOBiz Solo for freelancers, IPSOBiz Pro for professionals, IPSOBiz Service for service organizations and IPSOBiz Fab for manufacturing companies. The company is based in St. Lazar, Quebec.

Kashoo
Kashoo is free Kashoo is offered in English Kashoo offers support in English Kashoo uses the cloud or SaaS

Kashoo is a cloud-based accounting application that was developed in Vancouver. It is particularly affordable if you have multiple users and if you use multiple currencies. It also allows you to track your personal and business accounts separately for a small additional fee. A free version is also available, although it is very basic. The iOS apps are very popular.

QuickBooks
QuickBooks is free QuickBooks is offered in English QuickBooks is offered in French QuickBooks offers support in English QuickBooks offers support in French QuickBooks has data stored in Canada QuickBooks uses the cloud or SaaS

QuickBooks is a line of accounting software products designed for small business owners, entrepreneurs, freelancers and accounting clerks without accounting training. The off-the-shelf installed version is widely used, and an online package (QuickBooks Online) is now available in several versions for varying monthly subscription fees. The iPad and iPhone apps offer some interesting features such as the ability to record a sale and payment using a sales receipt, and to add all the customers and vendors stored as phone contacts right into QuickBooks.

Sage One Canadian Edition
Sage One Canadian Edition is offered in English Sage One Canadian Edition is offered in French Sage One Canadian Edition offers support in English Sage One Canadian Edition offers support in French

Sage One Canadian Edition is an affordable online accounting and invoicing solution that seamlessly tracks GST/HST and PST/QST. It offers a 30-day free trial version and a line of accounting software that can evolve with your needs.

Wave Accounting
Wave Accounting is free Wave Accounting is offered in English Wave Accounting offers support in English Wave Accounting has data stored in Canada Wave Accounting uses the cloud or SaaS

Wave Accounting is a free cloud accounting solution that runs on all major browsers, on both PCs and Macs. Customers can also use its mobile app to invoice clients and accept credit cards on the go. One of its standout features is the ability to set up your accountant, bookkeeper or business partner as a “guest collaborator.” Regrettably, the payroll system cannot accommodate the needs of Quebec businesses.

Xero
Xero is offered in English Xero offers support in English Xero uses the cloud or SaaS

Xero is another online accounting software package for small businesses. It seamlessly integrating with point-of-sale (POS) software and CRM solutions. Unlike some competing products, its bank feeds support selected Canadian banks so you can keep track of your cash flow in real-time. Although there is no free version, all pricing plans allow for unlimited users and include unlimited customer support.

Zoho Books
Zoho Books is offered in English Zoho Books offers support in English Zoho Books uses the cloud or SaaS

Zoho Books handles a range of small business accounting tasks, including reporting, invoicing, time tracking and time sheets, and provides an insightful dashboard. However, some features—such as automatic bank feeds—do not work with Canadian banks. Like other Zoho products, it offers a 30-day free trial, and integrates easily with other Zoho solutions, such as Zoho CRM or Zoho Projects.

This table lists applications alphabetically and isn’t exhaustive. Hyperlinks to external sites do not constitute endorsement by BDC of those websites or any information, opinions, products or services expressed or described on them.

Furthermore, the list is only a starting point and excludes applications not offered either in English or in French, or that are neither low cost nor free. When assessing which solution is best for your organization, you will probably consider many other factors.

BDC will review and edit this list regularly. If you are an accounting software vendor and would like us to consider adding your solution, please contact us.

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